Possibly the greatest breakthrough in hospital care was the novel idea that doctors should wash their hands after seeing a patient. It was an observation first made in the 1850s, and there was a sudden and dramatic improvement in patient recovery.
Patients will not be delighted to hear that it remains a rare event. The vast majority of doctors still do not wash up but, instead, spread germs to the next patient on their rounds.
In an attempt to encourage doctors to visit the little boys’ room, the Mayo Clinic is recommending a super alcohol-based hand rub as a great way to keep down those nasty germs. But if the average doc shirks away from good old soap and water, it’s unlikely he’s going to run for the new handwash.
(Source: Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2004; 79: 109-16).